We Made the Move! Dave Mincin
Date of Move: February 2, 2004
Dave Mincin here! I made the move from Pittsburgh, PA.
I must admit I was a bit hesitant, so I decided to attend the Escape to New
Hampshire given last summer, before the FSP vote was taken. My intent was to
check out these folks, see how they were and what they were about. Well, it
didn't take long for those good folks to win me over, and I decided within an
hour or so that they were my kind of people! From that point I decided I would
do all I could to see that New Hampshire was chosen as the Free State! The rest
is history, and New Hampshire is now my home!
After the election and announcement of the chosen Free State on October 1,
2003, I sat down and thought "Now what?" My research had consisted of getting
to know some of the folks involved. I didn't really look at much of the data on
the website, but did work with and get to know many of the folks during the
Great Which State Debate. From my experiences then, there was no doubt in my
mind that these were good folks!
Hell, in my book a place to live is just that. What is most important is
the people that you choose to have as neighbors. I must admit that my decision
as to where to live in New Hampshire came down to a choice between the Seacoast
and the Keene area. But it was more about Jim and Pat in Keene, Michele and
Jim in the seacoast area, and others. I had already made a decision that I
would be in NH February 1, 2004. Yikes! The seacoast won, because I believe
the job opportunities for me were better, and, well, I've never lived close to
the ocean before.
Still, it was a big step, moving over to the Free State from Pittsburgh.
But I remembered a note I had gotten from Michele Dumas, "Don't worry Dave,
when you are ready to move we will help you!" "Hot damn," I thought, and went
that route. I sent Michele a note, and she sent me some addy's of places to
rent. I called the first one, then Michele and her daughter Nicole checked it
out for me, and the rest is history.
I ended up in Dover, and I'm just finishing up my classes to get my real
estate license. Hell, I didn't come here for a career change; fact is, I was
real comfortable in my old life. However, I came here to help create a free
state, and I figure the real estate business puts me in a position to make a
buck and also help the folks get here. (At least I'm hoping I can help the
folks get here!) Otherwise, I'm just living in a studio now, just playing it by
ear! I've come to believe that we are really just one big family, a "freedom
family," so I'm hoping my new way of making a living will be a win-win for all
of us. After all, I'm thinking we are all immigrants freedom immigrants
so, hey, we need to help each other! And as we know, "help" for us is
different than "give me."
I figure I've talked to most of the folks who have made the move. And we
all agree, "good move!" New Hampshire is the Free State, we are here, and every
time a new Porc shows up and moves in, we all get the warm and fuzzies.
Do I have new friends in the Free State? Have I met new people? Hey, all of
the above! Those of us who have made the move are all friends, and many of the
local Porcs and other folks we have met have become friends too. If you want
names, check out the Seacoast Porcupines. Most of those folks aren't on the FSP
forums---many are not even FSPer's---but we are developing friendships and
working to promote freedom.
We'll all have chances to tell our stories when we move to the Free State.
There's a gal coming tomorrow to our Seacoast meeting who is doing her college
graduate work on the FSP. I expect she's a liberal, but she's up for hearing
our story, and so we'll give it to her. The point is, the folks in NH are open
and receptive and if we really believe we have the answers, and freedom is the
way to go, the folks up here will listen. Nevertheless, I've come to believe it
is about action not talk! I've really come to believe the folks in NH are
receptive to freedom, we just have to understand that confrontation will get us
nothing, we need to just ask, in order to let us tell our story.
Resistance to moving? It's too hard? Too cold winters? "Freeze in the
dark"? Oh come on! The weather? You just dress for it. So you live were it is
hot? Go from hot to cool car to cool building, etc.? Hell, I've been down that
road, where it's so damn hot you can't breathe when you're outside. So it is a
bit different here you go from warm to cold, or cold to warm? Big deal, and the
fall is to die for! Those who say it's too cold are just using a cop-out
excuse! Do you really care about freedom? Do you really want to have the
opportunity to make a difference? Laying out the weather thing is just a
convenient cop-out! Oops! "It's too cold for me"??? Please, everyone should
know I've talked to most of the folks that have moved to New Hampshire. As I
said, the fact is that we all agree, "good move!" Get a grip folks. We have the
opportunity---just us common folks, regular folks--- to make a historic
difference! To bring freedom back!
Hell, it's everyone's individual call, but I do think we just might have a
chance to make a difference. Think about it: "Yikes!!! Hey, the common folks
brought freedom back!" I can't speak for you, but I want you to know that in my
book New Hampshire is the One-and-Only Free State. I'm here, and I know that
I'll do all I can to bring freedom back. Our numbers are small in New Hampshire
now, but we are definitely players in the political process. I'm quite sure
that as our numbers grow we will become a real force in New Hampshire politics.
The people in New Hampshire? Did I feel like a stranger moving here from
Pennsylvania? Not at all. Check out the folks in the Free State. They have not
in the least disappointed me. In fact, that's the best thing about New
Hampshire. I like the folks! I'm going over to Carl's place tomorrow to play a
little poker. And I like the super ladies we have involved in this project. The
truth is, most of them are married, but they are all so much an asset to what
we are doing. Hey, I try to get a hug from each of them as a reward for what I
am doing! Fact is, I don't think we give enough credit to the super gals we
have involved in the project.
Hobbies? Sports? Pastimes? Just an old hippy ... and I expect I'm going
to learn how to shoot a gun straight.
The bottom line is this: I think we have a chance to be a part of
something bigger than any of us individually. Think about it. You, just a
regular Joe, have the opportunity to save freedom! I just hope everyone
understands just how important our mission is. And hey, when you get to New
Hampshire I hope you'll look me up!
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Alec Muller
Date of move: June '04
A Journey Toward Independence
by Alec Muller
Ten months ago I was unemployed, living at home with my parents, and
struggling to finish grad school (through distance-learning classes). I'd spent
five months looking for work both inside and outside New Hampshire with very
few leads. I'd been at home in Maine for just over a year, and I'd been
trudging my way through a master's degree for almost three years (they're
supposed to take about half that long). Gainful employment, a sense of
independence, and the satisfaction of having completed something all seemed
just beyond my reach. I was beginning to get discouraged.
All that changed, however, on a fateful day in May. A small engineering
and design company from Manchester called me and told me they'd take me on
as a contractor for a few weeks, and that it had the potential to turn into
full-time employment. I was elated to find any work at all, but this was a
double bonus because it meant that I'd actually be able to move to the Free
State right away, instead of waiting and having to change jobs later on. "How
soon can you start?" they asked. "Two and a half hours," I answered,
remembering how long it had taken me to drive down for the interview several
months earlier. They laughed and told me the following afternoon would be
I made arrangements to stay with an aunt and uncle in northern
Massachusetts, and for the next six weeks I commuted 45 minutes to an hour each
way into southern New Hampshire. Tired of the commute, I talked to other Free
Staters, found a rooming house through Joel Rauch, and did the paperwork to
become a New Hampshire resident. Deciding that a motorcycle wasn't going to
cut it through a New England winter, I made use of my residency and bought my
first car. New Hampshire's tax advantage hit me right away, and I figured out
that between sales tax and registration fees, I'd saved the equivalent of four
months worth of car payments just by being a Granite State resident.
The benefits of moving to the Free State go far beyond taxes, though. Even
before I got here there was an existing network of people who'd moved before me
or had lived here all along, and they made it far easier for me to set down
roots and establish a circle of friends than it's ever been for me before.
Bars, movies, get-togethers at people's homes, a day or two in the blazing sun
collecting ballot access petitions at town dumps I've realized that it's
important to have friends wherever you go in life, and for a libertarian in New
Hampshire, it's been a lot easier than I'd anticipated.
After five weeks in the rooming house, I moved in with fellow porcupine
Karl Beisel; he has a beautiful house in a nice north end neighborhood that's
only seven minutes from where I work. It has enough bedrooms for five or six
people, and he lets out rooms to porcupines, students, and professionals to
help pay his bills. It was a great improvement over the rooming house and the
long commute, but I think I liked the idea of Karl's house too much to
actually live in it for the long term; I wanted to copy it instead.
Over the next six months I saved everything I could while working on
distance-learning classes and pestering my bosses to define my employment. In
December I finally finished grad school after 3 ? years of screwing around, and
in early January, I finally came to an agreement with my bosses and became a
salaried employee after eight months as a contractor. Eight days after that I
made an offer on a six-bedroom house, and last week I closed on it and moved
in. After moving ten times in four years and owning nothing that couldn't be
moved by motorcycle, I finally have a place to call my own.
My struggle for personal independence is far from over, but the last few
months I've spent in New Hampshire have given me a tremendous sense of
self-confidence and satisfaction. My only regret is that I didn't start
looking for work here even sooner than I did.
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Russell Kanning
Date of move: March 2004
Reported by Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services
For the early-mover members of the Free State Project, it's usually pretty
clear why they "make the move" to New Hampshire. But some make the move for
reasons other than the chance to live in liberty among other freedom-lovers.
Russell Kanning is one of those: He moved for love! Call it "Porcupine
love" (if the whole notion isn't sharply self-contradictory). Upon moving to
the Free State from Wyoming in November 2004, he married FSP leader and
super-activist Kat Dillon (who herself had moved to New Hampshire from Texas
less than a year before). They now make up a Porcupine family of three with
Kat's daughter Kira.
Russell was living in Victorville, California sometime 2003 when he first
read about the Free State Project. "I signed up within days of reading about
the FSP for the first time," he recounts. Then he moved to Wyoming later that
year with his family, hoping that that state would be the state chosen.
Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately Russell had one more move to make before
he could live among other liberty-lovers after New Hampshire was chosen in late
2003 by the FSP membership vote.
It was unnecessary for Russell to do any advance scouting in the Free
State. He and Kat had already struck up an online friendship as a result of
both being activist FSP members. "I knew I would like any part of NH," he says,
"so I had not made any exploratory visits. But I did ask plenty of questions.
And I married Kat as soon as I moved into the state, to Keene."
About his first impressions, Kanning says "I like New Hampshire even more
than I thought. It's not quite as cold in the winter as I expected, and it's a
little warmer than Wyoming. Also, the people are very friendly in New Hampshire
and seem to have positive impressions of the FSP on the whole."
Russell recounts the same story about both anticipation and trepidation
upon coming to the Free State and meeting other Porcupines. "One of the things
I was looking forward to in NH was meeting my fellow Porcupines," he remembers.
"I have not been disappointed. I've met so many Porcs in the past few months
that I can't name them all. In fact, many of them I met in just the first few
weeks after arriving."
Any fears about the cold winters that some people use as an excuse not to
make the move to the Free State? "I wasn't concerned about the weather,"
Russell says. "I knew I would like New Hampshire no matter where I ended up. I
had been living in southern California for about 16 years, but I grew up in
Montana and Utah, so I was used to cold and snow." But even so, New Hampshire
turned out to be a shock for Kanning: "I've never lived in a place with this
much rain and all the beautiful trees," he marvels.
One thing that did concern him, he says, was the welcome or lack thereof
that he and other Porcupines would receive upon moving to New Hampshire. "I was
curious to find out how 'flinty' the locals would be," he says. "As it turns
out, they're friendly and don't seem to mind outsiders coming from as far away
He was also surprised by the condition of the roads in the Free State.
"Since we have so many hills in New Hampshire, and winding roads, I'm surprised
at how nice the roads are, and how well you can get around the state. It's also
pretty obvious that the road conditions worsen as soon as you cross the border
into the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts," Russell says with a grin.
What about the job situation? Was he worried about his ability to find a
job? Not at all: "New Hampshire is a very busy place, and it wasn't hard at
all for me to find the kind of accounting work that I do," he recounts.
Kanning is also looking forward to doing wintery sport things with his new
family in Keene. "My new wife and daughter went sledding for the first time in
their lives yesterday," he said. "We'll also be doing some outdoor skating,
which will be new for all of us. I'm an avid sports fan and like to play
basketball too, so I'll continue doing that here in New Hampshire. I'm also
making the big switch to New England teams from the Utah Jazz, Denver Broncos,
and LA Dodgers, since New Hampshire is now my home and will be my home from now
Any words of advice to others who may be contemplating the possibility of
moving to the Free State as part of the FSP migration? Russell is very explicit
about that: "You will not regret moving to New Hampshire early," he says.
"Everyone I meet is glad they moved, and I'm surprised at how much we can
accomplish already in the state, and how much the good people of New Hampshire
are welcoming us here. Each of you should move as soon as you can. You'll love
every minute in your new home in the Free State!"
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! "Joel"
Date of move: March 2004
Are you scared of taking that leap into the unknown? Of moving and
living in freedom in the Free State? So are lots of others!
But you need not fear. A steady stream of Porcupines is making the
migration into New Hampshire right now. Here's the story of one of them (who
wishes to remain anonymous; let's call him "Joel" for the purpose of telling
his story). Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services Director
My name is Joel, and I made the move from Tallahassee, Florida last year,
arriving in the Free State of New Hampshire in March 2004.
Because I was convinced by the Free State Project plan, and committed to
moving to NH from the time it was chosen, the only real research I did on the
state beforehand was to look over a map to see where the big cities were. I
chose to live in Manchester, the largest city and close to Concord and Nashua.
I arrived on a Thursday morning, found a newspaper, and started looking for
a place to live. By that afternoon I'd found a room to rent. Nothing fancy, but
it was clean and convenient.
On Friday morning I went through the newspaper looking for work. I'm a
carpenter, and I was surprised to find that there were lots of opportunities.
The very first person I talked to set up an interview for me that afternoon,
and I was hired on the spot, for more money than I had been making in Florida!
So within approximately 36 hours of arriving in the Free State, I easily
found both a place to live and a good job.
Not long after I arrived in New Hampshire, I had an opportunity to meet
another FSP member named Patrick who was visiting from Nevada. He was doing his
own research, and wanted to meet and talk to people who had already moved here,
so we got together for dinner. I was a little nervous. Up to that time I'd
never actually met another FSP Porcupine. I knew I wasn't crazy to have moved
across the country in search of liberty...but I wondered if other people
contemplating such a move would be.
I needn't have worried. Patrick turned out to be a normal guy, and our
meeting was the beginning of a great friendship. Later that same week, I
attended a Free State Project "Meet and Greet" party where I had the
opportunity to meet all sorts of Porcupines, from FSP President Amanda Phillips
to Michael Badnarik, who later became the national Libertarian Party
presidential candidate. It was a great event, and by the time it ended I knew
I'd made the right decision in moving to New Hampshire "ahead of the rush."
I've been in the Free State almost a year now, and I'm amazed at the
frequency of new arrivals. Every week I hear of someone new moving here, and
all are ready to get involved as soon as they arrive. We're putting together a
great team here, consisting of both new movers and long-time Granite State
residents, and we're going to make a difference.
For anyone and everyone considering "making the move," I say "do it now."
You won't be sorry. The reward is Liberty in your own Lifetime!
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Denise
Greetings and salutations! :-) (anyone who knows me knows I'm not really
that formal in person!)
I was a *really* early mover. (I have been in NH for just over a year now).
I had signed a lease to move to NH from MA in August 2003, mailed my ballot in,
and moved into my new apartment. I had been considering moving North for some
time, and with starting graduate school last year, I needed to not be paying
$1300/mo + utilities anymore. Besides I like the liberty minded independent
streak in the whole state. (Just look at how many vanity plates are out there
on NH roads. Freedom of expression is certainly alive in that way up here!)
I am currently working in MA, and living in Southern NH. I expect to change
jobs within the next year, but right now I am biding my time while pulling
together funding to purchase a small camp. I will eventually rebuild it, in
order to make it affordable for me to own my own home.
Some people complain about the high property tax rates up here. But
considering the average cost of the homes themselves here, compared with living
in a major metro area such as Boston/NYC/DC as I was, the amount spent in taxes
is much lower, as the housing prices are lower for much nicer homes. As a
comparison, my parents live in northern NJ. When I told them what the annual
taxes were on a home of the same selling price as their home might go for, they
were amazed how much less per year they might pay in NH, for a home of similar
size but including a nice amount of acreage near Concord, and are seriously
considering moving up to retire. And as more freestaters move up here, we
should all join the NH taxpayer association (as all local New Hampshire-ites
should!) in order to work on reducing the rates even more, allowing us to
influence how our money will be spent in our communities, and attempt to move
more toward a smaller government.
In any case, if a single woman can make it work to move up here, and be
considering purchasing a home, I think most anyone can.
I hope my little note is useful to some, and I am on the local porcupine
list (ladypantherrr) if anyone would like to ask me more.
- Denise, Nashua area
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Kat Dillon
Date of move: June 20, 2004
When I first heard about the Free State Project, I was actively looking for
a good place to resettle. I had landed in the tiny town of Frost, Texas with my
daughter in 2002, but never planned to stay. The Free State Project struck us
like a lightning bolt: An opportunity to move to a beautiful part of the
country, and to be a part of an important movement for liberty in our
lifetimes. My home-schooled daughter, Kira (now age 13), and I were hooked!
Once the decision was made to be a part of the Free State Project
migration, I had to get ready to be able to make the move. First, I spent many
months living frugally so we could get out of debt. Then I had to start saving
for the move; that took many more months. Right at the end of 2003, I
took an exploratory trip to New Hampshire to check out the lay of the land. I
had never been to the state before.
What an eye-opener! After a year in Texas, landing in New Hampshire and
seeing all the trees, hills, and beautiful old houses brought tears to my eyes.
Even in the midst of winter in December, New Hampshire is gorgeous! Having
grown up on the west coast, I was stunned by all the old buildings, many dating
from the 1700's. And the small towns! Many of them looked to me like something
out of a picture book or a Norman Rockwell painting. It's just a wonderfully
It didn't take any time at all for me to conclude that Kira and I would be
happy living in just about any part of New Hampshire (other than the larger
cities like Manchester or Nashua). My preference was to be out in the country,
but I had promised Kira that we'd move to a neighborhood with kids, so she'd
have the chance to make some friends (in Texas we had lived way out in the
boonies; Frost had a population of about 300...and we lived outside Frost).
The final decision on where to live was based on several important factors:
(1) It had to be a place where I could afford to buy a place; (2) we wanted to
be as far south as possible, to minimize winter and be closer to the large
population centers where liberty oriented activities would be most pervasive;
and (3) we had to find a place in a good neighborhood for Kira.
We started our search for a place to live in the Free State on the
Internet, looking mainly for mobile homes so I could buy without incurring a
load of debt (the website at http://nneren.com was useful in locating possible
places to buy). As I looked, I made a list of possibilities, then went over
them with Kira. We narrowed the possibilities down to ones we both liked that
were in reasonably nice areas. There were a couple of realtors who were
especially helpful to us, Dave Walthour of 21st Century Energy Shield, and
Matthew Clark of Maisello Group. I then scheduled a week-long "buying trip" to
New Hampshire, and set appointments to see the places Kira and I had agreed on.
During that trip I met a bunch of wonderful Porcupines, including Calvin
and Karen Pratt, who set up a "meet and greet" for me. Besides Cal and Karen, I
got to meet Karl Beisel, Sam Cohen, Dave Mincin, and many others.
As for the properties I was looking at, when I arrived in New Hampshire I
found the better places disappearing off the market very quickly. But I was
lucky: I found the perfect place for me and Kira in Keene, which had been on
the market for only a few days, and even then I found myself bidding against
someone else for it. Luckily, I was bidding with cash, and the owners wound up
accepting my offer only because I wouldn't be financing the purchase. Kira and
I agreed that Keene, in the southwest part of the state, was small enough to
please me, big enough to please her, pretty enough to please us both, and cheap
enough to be practical. We like living here! My only complaint is it would be
more practical to live closer to the "action" going on in state...nearer
Concord or Manchester.
The closing on the property, however, could have become a problem. It was
scheduled for just after the First Annual Porcupine Festival during the last
week of June 2004. Kira and I didn't want to miss the historic "First Annual
Porc Fest," so we took a leap of faith and actually moved to New Hampshire
before we closed on our new home...which meant we weren't absolutely certain we
really had a place to live. (Yikes!)
Readying for the move, I arranged for a storage unit for our possessions in
Keene, and resolved to drive a moving truck across the country, with only Kira
to keep me company. The best price for the moving truck rental turned out to be
from Penske, a 20-foot truck with a towing dolly for my car.
And I had never driven a truck like that before in my life.
Fortunately, there were a bunch of wonderful guys from the Dallas/Fort
Worth FSP group who helped me. They even tried to arrange some publicity for
the move: "First Free Stater Moves to New Hampshire from the Dallas Area!"
Unfortunately, we got no takers on the story. Nevertheless, those local group
members were a wonderful help when it came time to load the moving truck.
(Thanks so much, guys!)
Then, a stroke of luck. I found out that one of the Dallas/Ft. Worth local
group members, Mark Coleman, was driving across the country to attend the Porc
Fest. So we decided to caravan to New Hampshire together, which was a huge
relief because I was majorly stressed out about driving that huge truck across
the country by myself. It was good to know that someone would be able to help
if the truck broke down or some such thing. (Thanks so much, Mark!)
As it turned out, the trip to the Free State took three days, and went
without any problems at all. In fact, driving that big truck was major fun! (I
want to be a truck driver when I grow up!) ;-)
At the end of the three days, when we arrived in Keene, both Mark Coleman
and LPNH chairman John Babiarz helped us unload. (Thanks guys!) And then the
adventure continued as we immediately headed up to the Porc Fest in Lancaster
in northern New Hampshire. Although we got there in the rain, our tent site was
under the trees (like most things in NH), so we were able to get the tent set
up in relative dryness.
The First Annual Porcupine Freedom Fest and Night on the Barricades. What
can I say. It's really hard to describe that week. Kira and I never met so many
good, kind, nice, funny, freedom-oriented people in our lives. We had a blast!
The people were just exceptional. I've rarely met a group of people who I
"clicked" with so easily. (Tim Condon kept asking me, "When are you moving up
to New Hampshire?" And I kept answering, "I just did! I'm not going back!" LOL.
He couldn't believe what he was hearing.)
After the Porc Fest, Kira and I returned to Keene, and the imminent closing
on our new house. With my heart pounding in my chest, it went off without a
hitch. We had our new home! In the Free State! We spent a week cleaning and
painting our new digs, and then faced the chore of moving all our stuff from
the storage center into the house. But once again, an FSP Porcupine came to the
rescue for us: George Reich came over from Dover and helped us move in. (Thanks
What is it like to have moved to our new home, the Free State of New Hampshire?
Well, living here I've noticed several novelties: Motorcyclists without
helmets, people with
guns, land without
fire ants, and grocery
beer and wine (in Texas we lived in a dry county). And the
trees! They're everywhere! And they're wonderful! And the old buildings too!
Plus, when we got to New Hampshire, it seemed that everyone I talked to was
friendly and nice...just be prepared for the inevitable question, "Why did you
move to NH?"
And everyone else wants to know "What about the weather?" It's no big thing
for us. We're preparing for the winter now, and our place has a fireplace to
keep us warm this first winter. I was real happy to get away from the Texas
weather. I hate the heat!
Finding a job wasn't a problem either. I'm a computer programmer, and can
work from home from anywhere, so I "brought my job with me."
Kira and I are finding out that we're discovering new and fun things in our
new home state too. For one thing, we've rediscovered contra dancing! I had
done it once when I lived in California. It's so much fun, and Kira likes it
too. The place we go each week in the town of Nelson has been having contra
dances for the last 200 years (!). In many ways, it's like taking a step back
in time, and the people are incredibly friendly and helpful.
Bottom line? We've never been so happy that we made a move. Come on up! To
the Free State!
Back to We Made the Move!
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Gerry & Kim LaVallee 5/31/04
May 29th & 30th, 2004 our first "scouting trip" to New Hampshire.
Strictly to form first impressions.
We arrived in Clairmont around 8:00. First impression was fairly clean
small town, loved all the motorcyclist with no helmets. We stopped at a diner
called "Daddy Pop's Tumble In". Your basic ex-diner car type place with a lot
of folks there, food was okay-not great, service was very slooow as it was
every where that we ate the two days that wew were in-state. Looked around
downtown area a little while and was impressed with the fact that there was
very few empty storefronts.
Perhaps this is a good time to give some of our background to explain any
coloring of our perspective. We live in a small upstate NY town that is
surrounded by farmland, inexpensive real-estate, property taxes are not too
bad. Some businesses are doing great while others are dying (textile &
leather). Ours is one of the few conservative areas of NY, conservatives
outnumber liberals about 5-3 which is not the norm especially downstate. Lots
of rolling foothills to the Adirondack mountains, lots of lakes & ponds.
Also, lots of empty storefronts and empty factories, declining real estate
values. And of course, state taxes just plain suck the life out of a person.
Back to our trip. We noticed that the towns were a lot cleaner than at
home. Generally they seemed like the stereotype "quaint New England town". But,
being in the building trade, I noticed not very much new construction, mostly
maintenance and remodeling going on.
Next town was Newport, great little downtown area. We bought a newspaper
and realized that there is no local paper, only a state wide and one for the
upper valley. Culture shock number one, there will be others-stay tuned. Then
we stopped at my name-sake, LaValley Building Supply, this is a pretty good
sized yard for a small town and found out that a good size chunk of New
Hampshire is serviced by them, good job opportunity for me. Still haven't seen
a lot for my wife (she's currently a computer systems administrator for a
Culture shock #2, real estate prices? .wow. There are no cheap seats, even
building lots/land is higher than we expected. The lesson here is, leave any
preconceived notions at home. We had to remind ourselves that this is a
by-product of a growing state. Then we drove around more rural settings and
realized that another of our preconceived notions was wrong, that the geography
would be the same. While similar in respect to lots of trees and mountains,
there were hardly any rolling fields, like we are used to. The mountains seemed
more "abrupt". Maybe they are younger here? We loved all the covered bridges,
by the way.
Culture shock number 3 was when we wanted some lunch, we were near Lebanon
by this time and all we could find was national chain type of places, maybe we
were just unlucky? Also, Lebanon has one heck of a lot of John Kerry
supporters-signs everywhere. We ended up Saturday at our hotel, a little
disappointed- watch out for those pre-conceived notions. Then decided that
Sunday to include Grafton into our tour. Grafton was a very quiet little place,
lots of dirt roads. We have them around home, but they are seasonal only, for
farm access, hunting, etc. Here they are a year round access to homes, not a
big deal, just an observation. The lack of nearby medical access, bothered my
wife. Again this was a first impression trip, nothing in depth-anywhere.
By this time, we were getting a little tired and decided on a more southerly
sweep and head back towards home. Keene was the next stop and a surprise.
Another great downtown area, very artsy and reminded us of Saratoga's downtown.
Lots of traffic. Lots of motorcycles, gotta love the no-helmet law thing. There
were quite a few places to eat here, and also great architecture as in most of
the places we went through. Got the impression that this would also be a very
liberal area though.
We are definitely looking forward to the Porcupine Festival to talk with
other folks to confirm or correct our first impressions of these areas. Our
next scouting trip is tentatively the Concord area.
Gerry & Kim LaVallee
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Stan Rozenfeld's Vist to NH
Regarding Free State Project: The people I met at your party
[Meet & Greet at Cal Pratt's in Goffstown, NH] are unique to
libertarianism. Instead of sitting back, talking theory and resigning
themselves to a generations long battle to change society, your group is
committed to living in liberty now! I've found the people I met to be highly
social, friendly, very PR oriented, and VERY action-oriented. Other
libertarian organizations have a lot to learn!
Regarding New Hampshire: Although the state lacks the polish, the
scope and is not as developed as the New Jersey suburbs where I now live, it
more than makes up for it by great naturally beauty, a sense of history, the
friendliness of its people. There is a sense that everything is down to a
normal human scale. I don't feel part of a vast machine there, but as an
Breathing New Hampshire air really does make one more free!
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Memorial Day Weekend Trip
by K and A 6/4/04
A and I drove up to New Hampshire (from DC) for Memorial Day weekend,
and it was the best exhausting trip I have ever taken.
First of all, let me say a huge thank you to the folks who welcomed us, and
especially to Dave Mincin who was unbelievably generous with both his time and
his apartment. We drank beer and talked so much that A and I both lost our
voices on the way home.
But onto New Hampshire. We got into Dover late Friday night, so Saturday
was our first opportunity to look around. We joined Cal's group (Merrimack
Valley FSPers) for a lunch meeting in Manchester ($1 beers at
Millie'sthank you, Norm), and hung around talking for a few hours with
early movers and friendly natives. After that, a stop at Hampton Beach, where
we played in the sand, and a lovely drive up the coast to Portsmouth. If I had
any interest at all in living in a city, we would be moving to Portsmouth. We
sat outside at a coffee shop (Breaking New Grounds) on Market Square and
enjoyed the sun.
From there, it was back to Dover for dinner at Newick's, a justifiably
popular seafood place. We met some great people, and PattyE's husband, Bill,
kept me full of fried clams and scallops from his platter. More beer flowed,
and we stayed an hour past closing.
Sunday was driving day. We drove through seven of the ten counties in the
state (Sullivan, Cheshire, and Hillsborough excepted), starting in Dover,
heading up Rt. 153 to 302 through Crawford Notch and back down through
Franconia Notch down along the western side of Winnipesaukee and back down to
Dover. Notes on towns (scratched sporadically in a little notebook) follow:
Rochester: Looked for a bakery for breakfast, and ended up at
Dunkin Donuts instead. Discovered that "regular" coffee there means "cream and
sugar." This may be a NH thing or a Dunkin Donuts thing.
Wakefield: Nice little town. Finally spotted local baked goods
stand as we swallowed the last of our Dunkin Donuts breakfast.
Between Wakefield and Effingham, there's Province Lake. The road is in
Maine, but the lake itself is in New Hampshire. Rough water, but quite a
lovely spot, with tons of trees and mountains in the background. Some houses
on the water and in close proximity. Also a marsh.
Freedom: Beautiful little town, full of white clapboard houses,
with a nice sign that says, "Welcome to Freedom." It was Sunday morning, and
the entire town was clearly in the pretty old church (except for one older
woman I spotted manning a yard sale).
Conway: The town itself was kind of unremarkableit
reminded me of the medium-sized Virginia towns of my childhood. We did stop at
a farmstand on the north side of town, where we bought fruit, honey, raspberry
bread, etc. A nice old man ran the place, but it was a bit pricier than we
North Conway: Hippy outdoorsman kind of town, which has its good
and bad points. Movie theater, bookstore, crafts fair, EMS (Eastern Mountain
Sports) store, and places to eat. We stopped for lunch at Flatbreads, which
offers pizza out of a wood-burning oven. It was very good. Then we stopped in
at the bookstore, and with his purchase, A got a receipt that said, "No
Sales Tax 0.00." Only real turn-off was the trafficthere was actually at
traffic jam in the middle of town. It took us way too long to go a few blocks.
Partly the craft show, but it's only the beginning of the tourist season up
Plymouth: Cute college town, with a nice little grocery store
across from the college. They also have a movie theater, and a small but
attractive downtown area. (Note: if you're dumb enough to stand in the middle
of the road, cars will actually stop for you here.) We tried unsuccessfully to
find the Bridgeside Diner, recommended by one of our guidebooks.
Tamworth: Tamworth had two stores in town, one called the
General Store, and the other called the Other Store. There was also an inn and
a public school. Someone in town apparently owned a backhoe with which he was
helping a neighbor plant a tree in front of his house. It looked pretty, but
didn't feel quite right.
Meredith: We ate dinner at a restaurant on Lake Winnepesaukee.
Sat outside and ordered clam chowder, a lobster roll, a crab cake, and beer.
Pretty developed town, so not for us, but we'd visit again.
Gilmanton: Gilmanton itself is a pretty little town, and the
area around it is very hilly, so the views can be spectacular. Up by Loon
Pond, we drove on a highway that was designated as such in 1765.
Northwood: Not sure, but we thought we smelled a paper factory.
Worth checking that out.
Headed back to Dover to pick up Dave, and then met Joel (an early mover
from Florida) in Manchester for "the biggest fireworks display ever in southern
New Hampshire." They weren't kidding, and while the crowd was rowdy and drunk,
everyone was also startlingly friendly. Big fair with four fried dough stands
and a bunch of amusements (coin-toss-for-large-panda kind of things).
On Monday, we slowly headed home, driving from Dover to Concord, and then
west across Vermont to New York. On the way we drove through:
Concord: Ate at a bagel shop on the main drag, about a block
from the capitol. The capitol building is exactly what you'd imagine, and the
AARP and the NH Republicans have both set up shop directly across the street.
While we ate, I noticed two kids, about 8 probably, who had ridden over to the
bagel place on their scooters. They had lunch, unchained the scooters, and
headed for homeall without adult supervision. That's an awfully nice
thing to see in a state capital.
Hopkinton: Another pretty place. This is where we first noticed
the signs that forbid parking on city streets from midnight to 6AM, November 1
May 1. Must be for snow plowing.
Henniker: Now this is important: if you have a map that tells
you that you can get back to Rt. 202 on The Oaks St, do not listen to your map.
It's a dead end. Anyway, we saw two inns, a restaurant, and an elementary
school. A very pretty place.
Bennington: Bennington definitely does have a paper mill,
although we didn't smell it. Probably not working on holidays.
Dublin: Very hilly, and a consolidated school district. Home of
Yankee Magazine, and a pretty view of Mt. Monadnock across Dublin Lake.
There's a place called "Friendly Farm," with a petting zoo. We noticed that
the temperature dropped 5 degrees between Concord and Dublin.
Keene: Keene also has the strange parking prohibition. The
circle downtown was nice, and I could see the small-but-upscale-ish appeal, but
it was big enough to have some suburbia issues, which we're looking forward to
getting away from.
From there it was out Rt. 9 and into Vermont, which looked surprisingly
poor by comparison. Again, thanks to everyone who welcomed us, fed us, guided
us, answered our questions, and generally rolled out the red carpet. We
thought this trip would be an introduction to New Hampshire (which it was, to
some extent), but it turned out to be as much an introduction to the truly
amazing people who are part of the Free State Project. I had hoped that FSPers
would make good neighbors, to each other and to NH natives, and now I'm sure
that we will.
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